The human resource development (HRD) ministry plans to challenge a 2008 Supreme Court ruling that the government holds responsible for unintentionally handing over quota seats meant for the Other Backward Classes to general category students at institutions such as the Delhi University.
HRD minister Kapil Sibal on Thursday said the government was considering approaching the SC seeking a review of a ruling that bars admission of OBC students with marks lower than 10% less than the last general category candidate selected.
"The high cutoffs at universities like DU, along with the 10% ruling, make it very hard for OBC students to fill seats due to them. We are very concerned and I am considering going to the court. I will also be speaking to the DU vice-chancellor," Sibal said. Only a seven judge bench can change the ruling, made by a five judge bench.
The immediate trigger for the government's intervention is a SC hearing on Friday on a petition accusing the DU and the Jawaharlal Nehru University of wasting OBC quota seats, denying students from these communities the opportunities the 27% OBC reservation law is meant to offer. Only 3,158 out of the 7,059 OBC quota seats at the DU were filled last year. The vacant seats go to general category candidates under another SC ruling - which the government is not challenging.
But skyrocketing cutoffs at the DU - epitomized by a 100% cutoff at a top commerce college this year - proved equally critical in pushing the ministry's hand, government sources said.
Since OBC students who score higher than the general category cutoff obtain general category seats, the 27% seats reserved for students from these communities must be filled by those who obtain marks in a 10% band below the score of the last selected general category candidate.
This, the ministry sources argued, is near-impossible statistically at institutions like DU that admit students on the basis of scores in qualifying examinations - conducted in India by state and central Boards.
The problem is rampant
At DU, JNU and several central universties
Problem free institutes
IITs and IIMs
DU uses Board exam scores to set cutoffs. While IITs, IIMs use them as eligibility criteria and set cutoffs based on entrance tests